Aggies use ‘humbling defeat’ to improve, prepare for Idaho State

LOGAN – The 38 – 7 loss to Tennessee was something that Head Coach Matt Wells hadn’t experienced in his time as a coach at Utah State, but said the “humbling defeat” will be used as a learning experience and vowed the team will “get the ship righted.”

“We’re going to address this head-on,” he said. “We’re not going to skirt around any issue. We’re going to address it just like it is, call a spade ‘a spade.’ We’re going to be very detailed. We’re going to be very demanding, but not demeaning.”

Senior offensive lineman Kevin Whimpey said the defeat left a bad taste.

“The loss is something that none of us are going to forget,” he said. “Being beat 38 – 7 is a huge deal and is something that Aggie football is never going to stand for. But the loss also has taught us and also has given us the resolve to practice harder and to be better and to pay attention to detail. We’ll learn from the loss and definitely won’t forget the loss.”

Focus is now on Idaho State. The Bengals come into Logan for the Aggies’ home opener Saturday after losing to Utah 14 – 56 last Thursday in Salt Lake City. It is a team that is familiar to Whimpey. He played for Idaho State before coming to USU. He said that despite the score he was impressed with Idaho State’s performance against Utah and says the culture of the football team has changed since his time there.

“I can see the attitude in the players just by the way they play and the way they celebrate with each other,” he said. “Even when they were down 40 – 7, or whatever the score was, they were still giving effort. There was no quit that I saw and I just think they work hard as a team regardless of the scoreboard.”

One challenge the Idaho State team brings is its rushing attack. Running back Xavier Finney rushed for 133 yards against the Utah defense and running back Daniel McSurdy added another 60.

“I watched a little bit of the Utah game and I watched the first quarter. They played them really tough through the first quarter,” sophomore linebacker Nick Vigil said. “Their offense was moving up and down the field. They made a few mistakes, but their running backs looked really good.”

Saturday’s game at Romney Stadium will be the USU home opener and the first opportunity most Aggie fans get to see the team play in person.

“I feel like it’s an advantage to play here with how loud it gets,” Vigil said. “People who come in here who haven’t played in here before, I don’t think they realize how loud it actually gets in here. Our student section is probably second to none in the whole country. We don’t get as many fans as a lot of teams in the country, but with how loud it gets in here, I think it affects teams.”

For Whimpey, this will be his last home-opener as an Aggie.

“I love playing in Romney,” he said. “I love the local support, even Aggies that come from far. I love the game-time atmosphere. I love the ‘I believe’ chant. I love our student section, the passion and the emotion that everyone brings to the games. I’m proud to be an Aggie, so playing in Romney Stadium is huge. It’s an honor for me.”

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